Cities with the Worst Quality Tap Water in the USA

Cities with the Worst Quality Tap Water in the USA

While most cities in the USA enjoy clean and safe drinking water, in some cities the municipal authorities still fail to provide this basic utility. Of the 200 largest cities in the USA, we have listed below the fifteen cities that have the worst water quality.

Top 15 cities in the USA having the worst Quality of Tap Water

  1. Modesto, California

Modesto, a city in California, is known for having among the worst quality water in the country. The water there has almost 13 contaminants that make it unsuitable for drinking. One of the main sources of these contaminants is the use of chemicals and pesticides in agriculture, which infiltrate the water supply and cause many health problems when used for drinking and domestic purposes.

  1. Brady, Texas

Along with others, radium is a serious contaminant in the water supplied in Brady, Texas. Around 22 million people in Texas are exposed to water containing radium as a major contaminant. Although the water supplied in Brady is considered safe for drinking, the amount of radium present in the water is substantially greater than normal. Given radium’s potentially serious effects as a contaminant, its presence cannot be ignored.

  1. Fresno, California

Like Modesto, Fresno is a city in California whose population does not have a reliable, clean source of drinking water. Fresno’s water supply was found to have multiple contaminants including nitrate, uranium, arsenic, magnesium, trichloroethylene, aluminum, and EDB. The presence of these contaminants, especially the high levels of arsenic, makes the water unsafe for drinking. Although the municipal authorities undertake treatment of the water, the tap water in Fresno still contains significant contaminants.

  1. Omaha, Nebraska

Nebraska also faces water issues but, fortunately, the water here is considered safe for drinking. The major contaminants found in the water are lead, arsenic, trihalomethanes, nitrate, and manganese, but none of these are found in sufficient quantities to make the water unsafe. Although there are no health issues caused by the water, the Saddle Creek Retention Treatment Basin is nevertheless under construction with the purpose of removing these contaminants from the water supply.

  1. Midland, Texas

A total of 13 contaminants are found in the water in Midland, Texas.

  1. Irving, Texas

The major contaminants found in the water in Irving include atrazine, arsenic, bromoform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, chromium, chloroform, fluoride, and trichloroacetic acid. The water in Irving is treated, and once it has undertaken that process the tap water in Irving meets all the standards by EPA and is declared suitable for drinking.

  1. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The most significant contaminant detected in Pittsburgh’s water is lead. Lead consumption, even in small quantities is never appropriate and can lead to many major health issues. The maximum amount of lead considered safe is 15 parts per billion. In Pittsburgh, the level is 21 parts per billion. One of the main reasons behind the presence of excess lead in tap water is the use of lead pipes. As the age of the pipes, small particles of lead are absorbed into the water, causing many serious illnesses. The government is trying to overcome this issue, but it is not yet resolved.

  1. Houston, Texas

Houston ranks third in the nation when it comes to poor-quality tap water. The commonly found contaminants in Houston’s water supply include cyanide, chromium, arsenic, selenium, nitrate, fluoride, barium, and atrazine. A total of 11 contaminants are found in the water, which has a serious effect on its quality.

  1. Reno, Nevada

Reno also faces trouble getting quality tap water. The contaminants found in the water include dibromochloromethane, chromium, chloroform, nitrate, and other radiological contaminants. These contaminants, if not treated, can cause many health problems.

  1. Las Vegas, Nevada

The water in Las Vegas contains many harmful contaminants and pollutants. The total number of contaminants found is over 23, among which some have serious implications for people’s health. Radium, selenium, lead, nitrate, arsenic, and uranium are some of the contaminants found in the water in Las Vegas.

  1. Flint, Michigan

The city faces extremely serious water quality issues. Lead contamination in Flint is massive and an enormous amount of work needs to be done to remove it from the water supply. The government has been working on this issue and the levels are now below what’s considered to be a threat to health. Still, some areas continue to struggle with lead-contaminated water, which can pregnant women as well as infants.

  1. Detroit, Michigan

The water in Detroit is also of poor quality, though few of the contaminants exceed the health guidelines. These include nitrate, radium, haloacetic acid, and chromium. Some other contaminants that are also found are fluoride, vanadium, barium, and strontium.

  1. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee is another city where water has been found to be contaminated, mostly with lead. The high amount of lead in the water is unsafe; when water contaminated with high levels of lead is consumed, lead can pass into the bloodstream and become the root cause of many serious health problems.

  1. Jacksonville, Florida

A total of 12 contaminants are found in water in Jacksonville at levels that do not meet general health standards. Most of the contaminants are due to the use of pesticides and chemicals in agriculture. Arsenic and lead are major contaminants that make the water unsafe for drinking.

  1. Newburgh, New York

In 2016, a very harmful chemical, perfluorooctane sulfonate, was found in the water in Newburgh. This caused many health problems including kidney-related illnesses and reproductive problems. Certain filtration systems have been installed to treat this chemical as it is very dangerous to human health. People in Newburgh have been seriously affected by this deadly chemical.


Accessing clean, safe tap water is a blessing in today’s world. New technologies allow the use of different water filtration systems that make water safer for us to drink and use. All levels of government are also naturally concerned about poor quality water where it exists, and many steps are taken to ensure that contaminant-free tap water is available to every citizen.

Jeremy Lee is a researcher and part-time blogger who has a passion to discover cutting-edge technologies related to water filtration. He knows the importance of purified water in our lives and started this blog aiming to provide the best product reviews, buying guides, and other useful information related to water. When not working, he loves to spend time with his beloved wife and two kids.